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For homeless kids, distance learning is even harder

Original post made on Sep 18, 2020

The living situations for a small number of homeless students in Palo Alto Unified bring to light deep inequities at play with distance learning.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 18, 2020, 6:59 AM

Comments (28)

Posted by How can we help?
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 18, 2020 at 10:33 am

How can we help? is a registered user.

Palo Alto Weekly, how can we help this family?


Posted by Lauren Williams
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 18, 2020 at 12:22 pm

Lauren Williams is a registered user.

Barbara Best at PAUSD deserves a big thank you for helping the Solorio family get registered for school - it was a true partnership to get that done! Kafenia and The Karat School Project also deserve huge kudos for supporting this family with regular outreach. Without their support, these children (and others) could have EASILY slipped through the cracks when school resumed in August. If anyone is interested in helping support the RV community more with outreach please Google "Karat School Project" to learn more. Evelyne has shifted her pre-COVID work to focus on helping those in most need in our community as well continuing to support children in the Ivory Coast.


Posted by DBM
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 18, 2020 at 1:20 pm

DBM is a registered user.

Happy to buy the Solorio's some electronic gadgets that will improve internet connection in their RV and electric power packs for their children's computers. I'm willing to help up to 15 families if they are in the same dire straights. I don't know what contact protocol is but my cell is 650-245-2448. Text if I can help. Prefer not to have my name mentioned.


Posted by JB
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 18, 2020 at 2:04 pm

JB is a registered user.

I’m so glad that you wrote this story and feel terribly sad for this family. This is the first time that I feel I’ve gotten to understand the situation behind at least one of the RV’s that I see parked on El Camino. This really humanizes the situation of this family. I’m so glad that the school district is helping with their WiFi connection, and the Karat School Project sounds interesting. Best wishes to this family during this difficult time!


Posted by Ohio39
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 18, 2020 at 3:42 pm

Ohio39 is a registered user.

This makes me heart sick; to think it is happening in the great domain of Palo Alto ! The Karat School Project sounds worthy of a donation, but I want to be sure I am helping local students. Is there a better choice for a local donation?


Posted by iSez
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 18, 2020 at 5:13 pm

iSez is a registered user.

Why do their children have access to PAUSD? They are not paying Palo Alto taxes and are not residents of Palo Alto. We cannot educate just anyone who drives up in a vehicle.


Posted by CC
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 18, 2020 at 5:44 pm

CC is a registered user.

As the article states, the family arrived in Palo Alto in February. They pay $700 rent to their landlord, who I assume is the person that bought the RV had it towed to El Camino Real. Palo Alto is one of the most expensive cities in the world. When I was a minimum wage worker, I lived in Central Valley where rent was low and the stores were cheap. I've also lived in the midwest before having a real reason and the means to move here.


Posted by iSez
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 18, 2020 at 10:21 pm

iSez is a registered user.

@CC: They are paying rent for the RV, not for the plot on El Camino. No taxes are being paid. As you said, you didn't move to "one of the most expensive cities in the world" until you could afford it. If we couldn't pay our mortgage we would move to a less expensive area. That is what most reasonable people do.


Posted by Brenda Lee
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 19, 2020 at 11:10 am

Brenda Lee is a registered user.

How is renting from an RV different from renting a house for taxation purposes? Neither pay school taxes. Both types of renters choose to live in Palo Alto. Being older, let me say that along the border before border issues became propaganda often children would walk over from Mexico to be educated. They certainly didn't pay taxes. Border school districts decided it was wiser to educate those in their community whether living in the U.S. or Mexico because education benefits society. The other choice is to have uneducated children growing up to be uneducated adults.


Posted by Mary Jane Marcus/Moutsanas
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 19, 2020 at 11:12 am

Mary Jane Marcus/Moutsanas is a registered user.

Neighbors, thank you so much for caring. Karat School Project is leading (Kafenia Peace Collective supporting, Lauren and others) this effort! Evelyne will call you DBM. Whatever we do needs to be equitable for all the families. Give at KSP's Edu-Kits page (all funds go to RVs from this page): Web Link


Posted by Barbara Weinstein
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 19, 2020 at 11:13 am

Barbara Weinstein is a registered user.

I involved with Kafenia and the Karat School Project. They are doing wonderful work to help these families who are struggling and just want the best for their children. I encourage you to donate generously. All the money that you donate here will go to help the RV families. Thank you! Web Link


Posted by Mary Jane Marcus/Moutsanas
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 19, 2020 at 11:35 am

Mary Jane Marcus/Moutsanas is a registered user.

One last thing. If you want to see how to help - Email me - maryjane dot marcus @g. or [email protected] and I will connect you with our team/and Evelyne.


Posted by Eric
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 19, 2020 at 4:29 pm

Eric is a registered user.

>> Why do their children have access to PAUSD? They are not paying Palo Alto taxes and are not residents of Palo Alto. We cannot educate just anyone who drives up in a vehicle.

By this reasoning, only children with a valid street address should be able to attend school. That's equivalent to arguing that homeless children do not have a right to an education. In my opinion that's a sad argument to be making. In our country, ALL children have a right to an education. While it may not seem fair to you, homeless people, and people living in RV's still have their rights, as do their children.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 20, 2020 at 1:21 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

They “arrived here” from San Jose in February - really.
The rv rental scheme and on street parking of a rv is untenable.
In Houston they could have a nice apartment


Posted by iSez
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 20, 2020 at 4:01 pm

iSez is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by marc665
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 21, 2020 at 1:01 pm

marc665 is a registered user.

For the 30 years we've lived in Palo Alto, the PAUSD has made efforts to weed out students attending Palo Alto schools that did not actually live (own or pay rent) in Palo Alto. Friends that had to move out due to various reasons were not able to have their children finish their schooling in Palo Alto. The justification was that if students didn't actually reside in Palo Alto the PAUSD would not/could not provide schooling.

So why is it suddenly OK for somone to drive over the city limits and now they are "owed" both a place to live, schooling and services?

/marc


Posted by iSez
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 21, 2020 at 1:51 pm

iSez is a registered user.

@marc665: Exactly. The landlords in a house nearby were living in Los Altos but one early morning, PAUSD knocked on the Palo Alto door, looking for the children. Thus, the owners had to move back into the Palo Alto house. And the children said it was a relief, they no longer needed to lie and could resume playdates at home.

By educating the four Solorio siblings, they are using additional PAUSD resources that should go to other students.

Moreover, how is this equity? How about all the other underprivileged students in the U.S? This family basically won an education lottery.


Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 21, 2020 at 4:48 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

@iSez,
23 homeless students amount to .20% of the the population. That's 1/5th of 1%.

An education lottery? Did you read the article? It does not sound like they moved to the RV for the school system.

Do their living conditions give you the feeling that they're in an ideal learning environment?

What part bothers you about this? Is it that they moved from San Jose? That they don't pay property taxes? Do you really think that the 23 homeless students in PAUSD have any impact on the education of the remaining 11975?




Posted by Eric
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 21, 2020 at 5:27 pm

Eric is a registered user.

The law on this (McKinney-Vento) is pretty clear and dates back to the Reagan Administration :

Web Link

>> We have a right to live in million dollar homes without homeless living in vehicles on our streets.
No, the law doesn't grant you that right. What you can do is try to convince the city council to implement additional overnight parking bans. But I think you'll find that such proposals are controversial.


Posted by iSez
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 22, 2020 at 1:43 am

iSez is a registered user.

@Samuel L: Good algebra calculations. Short of you labeling me an outright racist, what bothers me is that they are not residents of Palo Alto, and I mentioned that above. I don't care what their ethnicity, race or gender identity is, they are not residents of Palo Alto. And yes, I do think it impacts the other students because people (teacher or admin or teaching assistants) have to help the children which takes time away from other students. And our taxes are paying for it. They claimed that they had to move to Palo Alto from San Jose due to "shelter in place." San Jose was on lockdown too. They drove specifically to Palo Alto for the school system. As for their situation with the living conditions, someone should tell them to move outside of California and they could make a better life for their children. Why do we have to pay taxes but they don't?


Posted by EmmaP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 22, 2020 at 7:31 am

EmmaP is a registered user.

They are more resident in Palo Alto than they are resident any where else and they have a legal right to an education. It is also in our interest as a society to see everyone receives a good education and not just those lucky enough to be born or adopted into the right families. If children don't get an education, they are far more likely to end up in prison and prison is expensive for the taxpayer. If they do get an education, they might become a doctor who saves your life or an engineer who helps develops a new breakthrough technology.

Note Palo Alto School District can and probably has requested federal monies for educating homeless children; it definitely receive both federal and state funding though I haven't looked into the details of for what. I certainly have no problem with my property taxes going to educate homeless children.


Posted by Samuel L
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 22, 2020 at 8:15 am

Samuel L is a registered user.

@iSez -
They did not claim they had to move here due to the shelter in place. They moved in February.
Under your system, in order to receive an education you must have an address and pay taxes. Correct?
What is your plan for the students in school that take up more than the average amount of a teacher's time in class? Have you ever talked to students at these schools or volunteered in a class? There are SO many students that need "extra attention". Do we cast.them off also and only educate the easy ones?
Where does it say they moved to Palo Alto "specifically for the school system"?

What qualifies someone as a "resident of Palo Alto"? My kids don't pay taxes, are they residents? Sure, I pay taxes, but it's the same amount if I have kids or not. What about a family with 10 kids that all need extra attention? Should they pay more because they take extra resources?


Posted by marc665
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 22, 2020 at 9:43 am

marc665 is a registered user.

@Samuel L: A resident of Palo Alto is someone who owns or rents a dwelling within the limits of the PAUSD. Read this: Web Link

No, it doesn't matter how many children there are. No it doesn't matter how smart they are. No it doesn't matter how much extra help they need. No, children are not expected to pay taxes as long as one of their guardians does.

The requirement is that they reside in Palo Alto. And that does NOT mean that they drove over the city limits and parked their car.


Posted by Michael O.
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 22, 2020 at 10:48 am

Michael O. is a registered user.

@iSez writes: "We have a right to live in million dollar homes without homeless living in vehicles on our streets. We'd all move to San Francisco if we wanted to be with the homeless." No sure if such a "right" exists. The housing market here is what the market will bear. I haven't seen housing prices drop because there are RVs on El Camino. Likely, in fact, that your house (if you even own one) is worth more since they started parking here a few years ago. [Portion removed.]


Posted by Michael O.
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 22, 2020 at 10:51 am

Michael O. is a registered user.

@marc665 didn't read the law, apparently. An RV parked in Palo Alto, as described in the article, most certainly is a residence under the statute that you posted the link to.


Posted by iSez
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 22, 2020 at 12:06 pm

iSez is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 22, 2020 at 3:36 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

@marc665 - Federal law allows RV's to qualify as your primary residence. So, sounds like they check that box. They also pay rent. Check.

"The requirement is that they reside in Palo Alto. And that does NOT mean that they drove over the city limits and parked their car." Actually, if they live in their car, it means exactly that.

Not sure why all the uproar over 23 students classified as homeless attending school in Palo Alto. Before this article came out, I doubt anyone thought it was an issue.

If anything, shouldn't there be a bit of egg on the face of PAUSD? How can they not make this situation better than just "pointing the routers towards El Camino"? How about a bit more proactive outreach such as from Barbara Best?


Posted by Mark
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 24, 2020 at 1:38 pm

Mark is a registered user.

I lived in a 24 years in a Dodge Commander RV for 5 very long years--adjacent to the S.P. tracks between Alma St across from Forest Ave --right down town --and worked for Ellison's Body Shop as painter from 7: am through 4:30 pm 6 days a week for 5 years . I went to Foot Hill College, De Anza and CSM, at night, for 4 long years --studying at Denny's until midnight every night because I had dim lights in the RV if I had them at all (batteries die) and no heat ever, no 110 current--12 volts only. When I got into calculus I had promised myself I would rent a place where I could study that had light and heat--

When I started calculus--I rented a home on Grove Avenue in Palo Alto and then rented out rooms to people while went to school for 2 more years full time at J.C.. I was ultimately accepted at U.C. Berkeley Haas Business School, U.C. Santa Barbara (Economics) and Santa Clara (Business). I choose Berkeley. I didn't apply to Stanford because they didn't offer an undergrad business program. I graduated from Cal in two 1/2 years and after 5 years working in auditing and tax preparation in Embarcadero one in SF--I moved back to Meno Park with my wife, then to Palo Alto where I currently live, I went to law school in Sacramento and graduated with a J.D. while managing our portfolio of rental properties--my wife and I purchased a duplex in 1995 in Menlo Park and lived in one side and rented the other. Next we purchased a 4 -plex in Palo Alto and on and on. We purchased income property before as house and purchased a house before we had a child--it doesn't make sense to me to have a child then try to purchase a house. But each their own. Good luck with that. For me it was first income property--live it and manage it- then a house--then kids. We leveraged up--now we own and manage 104 units.

My life in an RV: No heat. 12 volt electric, candles--the cars on Alma and the commuter trains really shook the RV and me--especially the long midnight freight train--1982 through 1987. It was very difficult--pretty much awful. But I was 25 years old and tough I rode my bike up in the hills on my time off.

Buzz Ellison and his wonderful family (Sheri and her husband now run Ellison's Towing)--put me on the map. RIP Buzz. He allowed me to live on his SP lot free of rent. I purchased the RV from him. His idea. Wonderful man. Great job. Wonderful family. I used his shower every day up stairs.

I'm sharing this because--while when I drive past those RVs now along El Camino--and I have an idea as to what that is like--it is blight however,. It's also on public roadways. That's different than driving onto private property --out of the way--and living there. It is possible to rent a place for RVs to sit --at mobile home parks in the area-- last I checked. How many RVs parked on our roadways is enough? Or how many of same are too many? The reality is that these people have options other than living on a public roadway. Palo Alto, very likely, has options other than to allow RVs on public roadways; for example--we could subsidize an RV space on a lottery system for example or need perhaps. We have one options.

It seems like on balance some restrictions need to be in place. I don't know what those would or should be. I don't pay attention to what's going on in anyone else's life. I have hard enough time managing own. But--I saved enough to put myself through 4 years of college fun time and would have had plenty to start a business with or purchase a home with had a woman I lived with and who I purchased a home with had not taken it from me through lying, and misrepresentation. She's now moved on to her next victim in Portola Valley--he just doesn't know it yet. Poor sap. I sued her of course. I got part of it back--she purchased a house in Palo Alto with what I couldn't get back without talking her to court and going through a trial.--or settling later. I've learned so much since then. Bad people are everywhere. It's a food chain. We're in it.

BUT--there are people in those little RV tin cans in Palo Alto who either can't pay rent--or refuse to pay rent. They're people like me, who come from nothing, and want a better life than a broken social security system to rely on when they're old and are thinking outside the box and are struggling the best they can to do that.



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